A sad day!!!!

I took this picture because I found it to be so interesting. You can see the children that have the opportunity to walk out with the players. If you look carefully you can see how small some of them are and although it may not be evident in the picture, they are so happy to be part of the big event. It is so awesome to see the joy that the World Cup brings to the children of the world. I say the world because I know that in my home town of Winnipeg there are children in many areas of the city that, althought they are not at the games like the children in the picture, are really enjoying the World Cup experience.

Here is further evidence that no matter what happens in life the friends you make in the referee world stay with you for ever. In the middle is Mr. Aquino, who was the Paraguayan referee that was at the 2002 World Cup in Korea/Japan and with whom I did a second round match. He was present at the game as he is now in the Paraguayan Referees Committee. Along with us is Oscar who was also at the 2002 WC. Even though we have not been in touch very often the friendship we established in 2002 was quite evident and it was great to see him again.

Our trio at the Paraguay vs Japan match.

Well, in every large FIFA competition there always comes a day when some referees are released from the tournament and others are kept a bit longer. That day arrived on Tuesday, June 29th for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. It is really a bitter sweet moment for many referees and there is a lot of us that feel a bit sad, whether you are staying or leaving the feeling is the same. You must realize that for 30 days, actually even much longer than that, most of us have been a huge family. We have been together in a number of competitions for the last four years, some for 8 years, in which we have had great experiences and at times some difficult moments. We have trained together, supported each other, cheered each other on, had enjoyable times on the field of play, applauded each other's successes and learned much about many cultures of the world. Refereeing has brought us together and given all of us much joy.
Now, we must say good by to many good friends and teammates. Who knows when our paths will cross again, but we know that no matter what we have made friends for life. We now that life will carry on and that there are many family members that will be happy to see their loved ones home again. That does not take away the sad moments so easy. We also realize that even though we may be apart we will continue to support each other and pull for "team #33". Those that get to stay will continue to work hard to represent all referees that are part of the 2010 FIFA World Cup to the best of their ability.
The sad moments will quickly be replaced by the encouragement provided by each referee no matter whether they are leaving or staying. The referee family will always be "a family" that works tirelessly to be the best it can be!

Above, is a photo of the CONCACAF referees that were able to attend the Paraguay vs Japan match in Pretoria. An opportunity for us to be together as a family and to move on from the news of the departure of some of our family members.

We had the chance to see the sun rise while the surfers were out doing their thing in the ocean. It was a great start to the recovery day and our trip back to home base.

Here you can see the surfers early on Saturday morning having fun with the waves as the sun begins to rise. It was kind of crazy for us to go so early in the morning to the ocean when we had a late evening but it was well worth the effort.

A view of Durban from the beach near the hotel. The surfers are actually running to get in the water at 6:30 a.m.!!!

After the game was over we did our regular cool down and had the opportunity for a photo before leaving the stadium.

Here is our entire crew before the game in Durban, Moi, Brent, Armando, Peter and Marvin. We really enjoyed the team work prior to, during and after the game. It was an excellent trip.

What a thrill!

The Portugal vs Brazil was one of the most anticipated games in the first round for a number of reasons. We received lots of good wishes from family and friends back home before the game telling us how much everyone was so looking forward to it as well. We really wanted to enjoy the experience and we prepared ourselves to do just that. It was a difficult game but we feel we resolve the situations pretty well and we had a great time. It was a thrilling experience with lots of tension and stress but all in a good way. We managed many tough situation before and during the match and we had fun doing it. Here is a photo of our arrival at the Durban Stadium - what an awesome stadium it is!

Minus One

Upon our arrival in Durban we were led to the hotel to get our rest before game day.
Our team departing the Referees Headquarters for our game on Friday in Durban. We had a short drive to the airport and a 50 minute flight to Durban.

Minus Two

Two days before any match we do a specific training to get us ready for the game. Here we are training on strength and speed on Wednesday. Part of the training on this day also included technical sessions.

Our Second Game

This morning (Tuesday) we participated in the -3 training sequence, which meant we had been assigned to a game on Friday. At the debriefing meeting this afternoon we were informed that our next game will be Portugal vs Brazil in Durban on Friday. We will leave on Thursday for the match and return on Saturday. From comments by fellow referees Durban is quite pleasant and not as cold as some other venues. Our game is at 4:00 p.m. local time. We are really looking forward to enjoying this match.

The players that assist us on a regular basis do a cool down after the sessions are completed. They normally sing a song while they run around the field and do their cool down. Here you can see them acting out the song. The players are great and we are very thankful for their help.

Second Media Day

On Monday we had a second media day and there were a number of referees being interviewed. The media was allowed to watch the referees morning training session followed by interviews.

Here is our friend from Japan writing different names in Japanese. He was a very popular stop on our tour of the different cultures.

Cultural Activities

During our stay we have had a chance to demonstrate a bit of our culture and background about our cities and countries. Here you see some of the referees trying out some of the African instruments. It was a good opportunity to get to know our friends a little more. Some had videos, music, documents, instruments and games from their local areas. It was fun!

Denmark vs Cameroon

On June 19th we were lucky enough to go see the game between Denmark and Cameroon. It was a pretty exciting game with lots of action and the fans got right into it. It is great to see the games in person as you get a real good feel for how much the fans are having fun. As you can tell, yes it was cold, we are wearing winter jackets!!!!


Firs of all, Happy Father's Day to all the fathers back home and around the world. In particular those that I know personally, I hope you have a great day and enjoy every minute with the family and the games of course! Let me get your first question out of the way! As of today, June 20th, we have not been informed of our next game. We are exercising "patience" and keeping busy with the daily activities. Most referees will likely receive two appointments in the group stage of the competition so we are hopeful that we may get one more game in this stage. If not we will deal with it as we are prepared for anything.

Yes, it is cold in South Africa. The above picture shows the frost in the early morning hours as we depart for training. It is cold in the mornings and evenings. At times there is a strong wind that makes even colder. Most referees are not used to this type of cold during tournaments so it is an adjustment for everyone.

Our day off concluded with the referees attending the match in Pretoria between South Africa and Uruguay. It was a packed stadium and lots of noise been made. Here is Marvin and I having a laugh as he tries to be taller than I as he stands on the seat in the stadium. The weather was very cold. This World Cup is being held in the winter and you can really tell during the mornings and evenings. It feels so cold that it is better to be running on the field than sitting watching the games. None the less, we really enjoyed the opportunity to watch some of the matches.

During our day trip we were able to visit one of the main street in Pretoria and see all the oudoor vendors as well as take a pleasant walk.

Day off

When we do games we have a cycle that starts with three days before the match and finishes two days after the match. The days before the match include all the necessary preparations for the game itself, including travel to the city of the match. There is the day of the match and then the two days after, which includes a recovery day by exercising in the pool (best for the joints and muscle recovery) and a total day off to relax and take it easy. On the day off we have an opportunity to leave the home base for a couple of hours to shop or go sightseeing. We chose to go to down town Pretoria to get to know the City a little bit. It is here that the photo of the square was taken.

A number of the Assistant Referees with Zakumi, the 2010 WC Official Mascot. Zakumi is a leopard and the name stands for a composition of "ZA" for South Africa and "Kumi", which means "10" in various languages across Africa.

Some local sites

Here is a view of the city of Pretoria from the Presidential Palace.

At the end of our match players and referees shake hands and wish each other luck for the rest of the competition. We all know this is not always a pleasant experience. We had no complaints from any of the players or coaches and that is always a good sign that things went well.

Staying focused and getting ready for a Paraguay free kick late in the game. The amount of action near or in the penalty area is so much that we have to be very alert. It is for this reason that we practice incidents near and in the penalty area at our technical sessions on a daily basis.

Hector's Blog - More action shots

After completing the checking of the net I wait for my colleague to finish as his end of the field of play before taking my position on my touch line.

Before the kick off we get the chance to provide each other with additional encouragement and suppport. The reason we are here is to do the best possible job and team work has a lot to do with how successful we are. We have a pretty good team and I would have to say all of the trios aim to be the best they can be.

Provincial Championships

The Manitoba Provincial Championships are underway and happening every Saturday throughout the summer.

For information on fixtures and results so you can get out and see the best of what Manitoba Soccer has to offer, head to:

Check back for detailed stories on the Provincials and some video footage as well!

Got the World Cup bug? Get in on the action here at home...

The MSA are putting on a 3 v 3 tournament at the Winnipeg Soccer Complex. Check it out for some awesome soccer action closer than South Africa...

As always, visit our website www.manitobasoccer.ca for more details.

Some of the action during the match. The teams really played most of the game in the mid third of the field of play and play was very compact. The fans were fantastic and the noise level was very loud but we were so concentrated on the game that it really did not have an impact on our team work. It was another great experience and we thoroughly enjoyed it.

The weather at the time of us checking the field prior to the game was dry, although it had been raining most of the day. However, as we completed the field inspection a light rain started to come down. It continued during the walk out and the national anthems. As the game progressed the rain got stronger and it become fairly cold. The field, which I am told is from Manitoba, held up very well in the rain but it was so cool out that a slight night frost could be seen building up on the pitch. We had a good game and felt that it was a good start to the World Cup for our trio. We also know that we can do better and will be making adjustments to ensure that if we get another appointment we improve.

Our First Game Italy vs Paraguay

We left for our game in Cape Town on Sunday afternoon. It was short 45 minute drive to the airport followed by a flight that was about two hours long. We were met by the LOC Referee Liaison and taken to the hotel that was only 10 minutes away and only five minutes from the Stadium. The weather was rather cool and rainy when we arrived. The rain continued all day on Monday. We spent the day in the hotel taking it easy, watching other games, evaluating the teams and planning for our match that evening. We left for the stadium about two hours before kick off.

Thank you!!!!

I wanted to take an opportunity to thank all the people that have sent some many good wishes from across the world. At times, it is difficult to respond to everyone so by having the blog it will allow you to see and read what is happening.

You know who you are and what you have done to support my goals, as such, even though I may not have sent you a personal thank you, I am doing it in public. Your encouragement is greatly appreciated and your friendship is valued. Some days are very difficult as many different things happen that affect us and knowing that your family, friends and colleagues are behind you makes it much easier to overcome any issue that may arise. That support is invaluable and I am very glad to have you on my corner.

I hope that you continue to enjoy the blog and that when you read and see the messages you realize that part of you is here with me. Sometimes we forget to thank the people that are important to us!!!

So again, thank you for being one of my supporters!!! When I walk on the field on Monday for our first game I will take all of those great wishes with me.

Action from the first match between South Africa and Mexico. You can see the action at the team benches and the media capturing the action as South Africa misses an opportunity to score.

Dancers during the opening ceremonies.

The white section is the seating area for the world wide media that attended the opening ceremonies and first match.

There are times that in addition to our regular training sessions on the field of play on a daily basis we include some upper body weight workout. These are low in intensity and also include core exercises. We have very good equipment that makes it a joy to actually work out.

During our integrated exercises, we get instructions from all areas before the session starts. It is great team work from everyone with the one goal in mind to have everyone as prepared as possible for the actual games.

Our trio just after we arrived at the Soccer City Stadium for the opening ceremonies and match.

Marvin and I enjoying the opening ceremonies. The stadium had over 84,600 people in attendance for the first match that took place after the opening ceremonies.

It has started!!!

We were not sure if it was going to be possible to attend the opening ceremony and the first game of the 2010 World Cup. Fortunately for us we were able to go. It was a long day as we set off from our headquarters at 11 am and returned at 8:30 pm, but it was well worth it. We were able to see the opening ceremonies, which some of us found to be simple but in very good taste with some exciting moments. The jets doing a "fly by" at the beginning of the ceremonies was awesome. The noise level of the crowd and the excitement of the people in the stadium and walking about was great. The opening game had its moments of excitement as well, which finished 1-1. The World Cup is finally here and we will now get more in tune with the competition as games are played daily and our referee team will be in action every day.

Here we are this time in our training gear. The five people that have been involved in the same capacity in the last three world cups (moi, Werner, Carlos, Mitzu, Oscar).

Daily Training

We are providing the players with a small token of appreciation for all of the assistance they provide to us and our training on a daily basis. The players work really hard and they are really a part of our team.

The players that have been so helpful during our training do their cool down as well. It is really neat as they all sing as they run around the field and do their cool down. We would not be a match for them at all. It's just great to see their smiles and enjoying the work they do for our benefit.

Time to cool down after a long 3 hour training session, which included all the areas as per our normal protocol.

The FIFA Instructor giving as the details of our next training session.

Doing some team building exercises. I am trying to get away so that I don't get tagged with the ball. It was a really great drill that allowed us to have fun yet worked on skills that we can use on the field of play.


These are the buses that we use to travel to and from our training sessions.

Training Sessions

In the middle of the integrated sessions, with players taking full part of our sessions. Some of the players are very good at providing difficult angles that test us.

In full sprint during the technical sessions. We are all enjoying having the sessions and continuing to work as a team to be as prepared as possible.

Listening to the instructors providing us with the details of the sessions. As normal, we are all wearing the same sports equipment as indicated on the daily program.